How to Clean Synthetic Leather Shoes

Synthetic leather shoes have become a popular and affordable footwear choice, offering style and durability. However, like any pair of shoes, they require regular maintenance to keep them looking sharp and comfortable. Cleaning synthetic leather shoes is a straightforward process that, when done correctly, can prolong their lifespan and maintain their aesthetic appeal.

How to Clean Synthetic Leather Shoes

In this guide, we will explore effective methods and practical tips on how to clean synthetic leather shoes, covering everything from basic surface cleaning to more in-depth stain removal techniques. Whether you’re dealing with everyday dirt and grime or facing stubborn marks, understanding the proper cleaning methods ensures your synthetic leather shoes stay in top condition, allowing you to stride confidently in footwear that not only looks great but also stands the test of time.

Importance of Regular Cleaning for Synthetic Leather Shoes

Synthetic leather shoes have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their affordability and durability compared to genuine leather. However, with regular wear, these shoes can quickly accumulate dirt, dust, and grime that not only affects their appearance but also shortens their lifespan.

Regular cleaning is essential for maintaining the quality and longevity of your synthetic leather shoes. In this section, we will discuss the importance of regularly cleaning your synthetic leather shoes and how to do it effectively.

1. Prolongs the lifespan of your shoes

Just like genuine leather, synthetic leather is made up of polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated with a layer of plastic. This makes them susceptible to drying out and cracking if not properly cleaned and conditioned. By regularly cleaning your shoes, you prevent the buildup of dirt and grime that can damage the material and cause it to deteriorate over time. This will help prolong the lifespan of your synthetic leather shoes, saving you money in the long run.

2. Maintains their appearance

One of the main reasons people opt for synthetic leather shoes is their sleek and polished appearance. However, with regular wear, these shoes can quickly lose their shine and become dull and dirty. Regular cleaning helps to remove any surface dirt or stains, keeping your shoes looking clean and new.

Remove Any Surface Dirt or Stains

3. Prevents bad odors

Wearing the same pair of shoes every day without proper cleaning can lead to an unpleasant odor caused by bacteria and fungi. This can not only be embarrassing, but it can also cause health issues such as athlete’s foot. Regular cleaning and airing out your shoes prevents the buildup of bacteria, keeping them smelling fresh.

10 Methods How to Clean Synthetic Leather Shoes

1. Wipe with a Damp Cloth

The first step to cleaning your synthetic leather shoes is to wipe them down with a damp cloth. This will help remove any dirt and debris that has accumulated on the surface of the shoe. Be sure to use a soft, lint-free cloth to avoid scratching the material. Once you’ve wiped down the shoes, let them air dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Wipe Them Down With a Damp Cloth

2. Use a Mild Soap

Once your shoes are dry, you can use a mild soap or detergent to clean them. Mix a few drops of mild soap or detergent in warm water and use a soft brush or sponge to scrub away any remaining dirt and grime. Be sure to rinse off any soap residue with clean water when you’re done.

3. Apply Leather Conditioner

Once your shoes are clean and dry, you should apply a leather conditioner to keep them looking their best. Leather conditioners help keep the material supple and prevent it from cracking over time. Make sure to follow the instructions on the product label when applying the conditioner, as some products may require special application techniques or need time to absorb into the material before buffing out any excess product.

4. Use an Eraser

If there are any stubborn stains on your synthetic leather shoes, you can try using an eraser to remove them. Gently rub an eraser over the stain until it is removed; be careful not to rub too hard as this could damage the material of your shoe! Once you’ve removed the stain, make sure that you wipe off any eraser residue with a damp cloth before proceeding with cleaning your shoes further. 

 Try Using an Eraser

5. Use Rubbing Alcohol

If there are still stubborn stains that won’t come off with an eraser, you can try using rubbing alcohol instead. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently dab at stubborn stains until they are removed; be careful not to saturate the material as this could cause discoloration or damage it further! Once all of the stains have been removed, make sure that you wipe off any rubbing alcohol residue with a damp cloth before proceeding with cleaning your shoes further. 

6. Clean Creases Carefully

Synthetic leather can become creased over time due to wear and tear; however, these creases can be difficult to remove without damaging the material further! To safely clean creases in synthetic leather shoes, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and lightly mist over creased areas until they become slightly dampened but not soaked through! Then, use your fingers or a soft brush to gently massage away wrinkles until they disappear; if necessary, repeat this process until desired results are achieved! 

Mix Equal Parts White Vinegar and Water

7. Remove Scuffs with Baking Soda Paste

If there are scuffs on your synthetic leather shoes that won’t come off easily with regular cleaning methods, you can try using baking soda paste instead! Mix equal parts baking soda and water together in a bowl until it forms a thick paste-like consistency; then apply this paste directly onto scuffed areas of your shoe using either your fingers or an old toothbrush! Let sit for 15 minutes before wiping away the excess paste with either paper towels or an old rag! 

8. Air Dry after Cleaning

After completing all of these steps for cleaning synthetic leather shoes, make sure that you allow them adequate time for air drying before wearing them again! Place newspaper inside each shoe (this will help absorb moisture) and allow them to sit overnight (or longer if necessary) until completely dry before putting them back on again! 

Allow Them Adequate Time for Air Drying

9. Test Small Area First

Before attempting any of these methods for cleaning synthetic leather shoes on larger areas of fabric/materials, make sure that you test out each method on small areas first (such as inside seams). This will help ensure that no damage is caused by harsh chemicals/cleaning agents used during these processes – if anything looks discolored or damaged after testing out these methods, then discontinue their use immediately! 

10. Invest in Proper Care Products

Finally – investing in proper care products designed specifically for synthetic leather materials will help ensure long-term durability for years ahead! Look for products such as cleaners/conditioners designed specifically for faux/synthetic materials – these will help keep surfaces looking like new while also protecting against future staining/scuffing damage!

Things to Consider When Cleaning Synthetic Leather Shoes

As much as we try to keep our shoes clean and in good condition, they are bound to get dirty over time. This is especially true for synthetic leather shoes, which can easily attract dirt and scuff marks. However, with the right care and cleaning methods, you can maintain the appearance of your synthetic leather shoes and prolong their lifespan.

Here are some things to consider when cleaning synthetic leather shoes:

Read the Care Instructions

The first and most important step in cleaning any type of shoe is to read the care instructions. Different materials may require different cleaning methods, and using the wrong method can damage your shoes. Look for a tag or label on your synthetic leather shoes that will indicate how they should be cleaned.

Gather Your Materials

Before starting the cleaning process, make sure you have all the necessary materials on hand. This includes a soft cloth or brush, warm water, mild soap or detergent, and a conditioner or protectant (if recommended by the care instructions).

Remove Surface Dirt

Use a soft cloth or brush to gently remove any surface dirt from your shoes. Avoid using harsh scrubbing motions, as this can damage the material.

 Allow Them Adequate 
Time for Air Drying

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather is a popular material used in shoes, bags, and other accessories. It is an affordable, durable alternative to genuine leather and can be found in a variety of styles and colors. However, like any other type of material, synthetic leather requires proper care and maintenance to prolong its lifespan. Here are some common mistakes that people make when cleaning synthetic leather and how to avoid them.

Using Harsh Chemicals

One of the biggest mistakes people make when cleaning synthetic leather is using harsh chemicals. These chemicals can damage the material and cause discoloration, cracking, or peeling. It is important to always check the labels on any cleaning products you use and make sure they are safe for use on synthetic leather. When in doubt, opt for mild and gentle cleaners or stick to natural solutions like vinegar and water.

Using Excessive Water

Another mistake that people make is using excessive amounts of water when cleaning synthetic leather. While it may seem like a good idea to use water to remove stains or dirt, too much water can actually cause damage to the material. Synthetic leather is not as absorbent as genuine leather, so using too much water can cause the material to become saturated and lead to warping or stretching. Instead, use a damp cloth or sponge and only apply enough water to clean the surface.

Not Testing on a Small Area First

It is always important to test any cleaning products or solutions on a small, inconspicuous area first before using them on the entire surface of your synthetic leather item. This will ensure that the product does not cause any damage or discoloration to the material. If you notice any adverse effects, stop using the product immediately and try a different method.

Safety Precautions for Cleaning Synthetic Leather Shoes

Synthetic leather shoes are made from human-made materials such as polyurethane, nylon, and polyester. They mimic the look and feel of genuine leather but require different care and cleaning methods. Improper cleaning can damage the material and shorten the lifespan of your shoes. Therefore, it is essential to follow safety precautions when cleaning synthetic leather shoes.

Here are some safety measures to consider:

  • Read the care label: Before cleaning your synthetic leather shoes, read the care label attached to them. The manufacturer provides specific instructions for cleaning and maintaining the material. These instructions can vary depending on the type of synthetic leather used.
  • Test in a small area: Before applying any cleaner or solution to your shoes, test it in a small, inconspicuous area. This test will ensure that the cleaner does not discolor or damage your shoes.
  • Use gentle cleaners: Avoid harsh chemicals, such as bleach or ammonia, when cleaning synthetic leather shoes. These chemicals can cause the material to dry out and crack. Instead, use mild soap or a mixture of water and vinegar.
  • Avoid excessive scrubbing: Synthetic leather is not as durable as genuine leather and can easily scratch or peel. Avoid using a rough brush or scrubbing too hard when cleaning your shoes.
  • Allow for proper drying: After cleaning, allow your synthetic leather shoes to dry completely before wearing them. Placing them in direct sunlight or near a heater can cause the material to shrink or crack.


It is important to keep synthetic leather shoes well maintained in order to extend their life. Fortunately, with proper care and cleaning, these shoes can have a long life. Although it may seem difficult at first, taking the time to clean synthetic leather shoes on a regular basis will help them stay clean and looking great.

Furthermore, properly cleaning the shoes helps protect them from water damage and dirt build up that could cause permanent damage. By following these steps and guidelines when it comes to caring for your precious synthetic leather shoes, you can look forward to having them look brand new for years to come! So don’t wait any longer – get out there and learn how to clean synthetic leather shoes today!

Photo of author

Matt Clark

Hi, this is Matt, and I am a leathercraft hobbyist. I have been working with leather for quite a bit of time. When I was a teenager, my father taught me the basics of leathercraft. Along the way I have learned a lot of things about leather work leather items, restoring leather, and creating leather accessories. I started this blog to share my knowledge of leatherworking with others and help people learn about this amazing craft. I also wanted to create a community of like-minded people who could share ideas and support each other in their leatherworking journey.

Leave a Comment